Friday, December 27, 2013

Roses from Stanthorpe

We had a lovely trip out to Stanthorpe for Christmas, where we ate potatoes freshly harvested from the earth and played cricket on Christmas day. Before we left my father in law gave me this bunch of roses from his front garden, aren't they gorgeous?
roses from a recent trip to Stanthorpe
Christmas eve harvest of potatoes and zuccinis, and one tomato

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Chilli

I wanted to share a picture of our chilli bush, which is covered with red and green fruit. It looks very Christmassy! We're thinking of extending our patio and this new herb garden which we only planted a few months ago is going to have to go. So we will be trying to transplant this chilli bush at a later date, hopefully it survives, because its looking very happy and healthy right now! Its only been in the ground for a couple of months and its amazing how much its grown.
our chilli bush is covered in festive looking fruit in time for Christmas

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gluten free chocolate cupcakes with Stevia frosting

I was so busy on the day, this is the best photo I got of Tom's birthday cake. We made gluten free chocolate cupcakes. We found the gluten free chocolate cupcake recipe at the Healthy Chef. The recipe says 2 tablespoons of honey but we thought they weren't sweet enough so we added 4 tablespoons of honey instead. They're quite delicious with double the amount of honey. We iced some cupcakes with icing sugar and 100s and 1000s for the kids and my husband who is on a dairy free diet at the moment. But most of the cupcakes had piped stevia butter frosting on it. We found the recipe for stevia buttercream frosting at Wholesome Sweeteners. Instead of lemon flavouring, we added a teaspoon of cocoa. With a lot of diabetics at the party, these cupcakes were just the treat.
most of the cupcakes had stevia buttercream frosting

Friday, December 20, 2013

Handmade Card for a 3 year old boy

Here is the beautiful card my mum made for Tom's 3rd birthday. As you can see, she is very talented at making handmade cards. There was even matching wrapping paper, it was so lovely.
handmade card for a 3 year old boy
inside the card

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chinese Plum Sauce

Well, Tom's party went well, and Pa bright a bunch of fruit with him to share from Stanthorpe, including these bunch of beautiful looking plums. We didn't get to eat them all so we turned them into Chinese plum sauce! We had it with pork steaks, it was very yummy! It was quite tart because the plums were, but yummy all the same. The recipe we used was for traditional Chinese plum sauce from scratch. We didn't have any ginger, so we simply skipped it.
plums from Stanthorpe ready to make plum sauce
Chinese plum sauce cooking in the pot

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pomegranate and Peach Coasters

I made these coasters for a custom order, it doesn't happen often but it has happened! I bought this cotton especially, I hope the customer likes them!
Peach and Pomegranate drink coasters

Monday, November 25, 2013

Red, Pink and Latte Coasters

I really like the combination of these colours. It didn't occur to me that they would go together until I saw the balls sitting together in my project basket. I just used the simple coaster pattern from crochetspot that I've used for other coasters. Do you like these colours together?
a stack of multi-coloured crochet coasters
red, pink and latte coasters

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yellow Doily Coasters

What is it with the colour yellow? These coasters I listed in my online shop yesterday have more views than most things in my shop, with the exception of the yellow flower coasters! I've ordered some yellow 4 ply and it should arrive any day now so I can make more things in yellow, it seems to be the colour people like to look at right now! These yellow doily coasters are the same as the green ones I made, with a 3.5mm hook and 7 dc in the last round clusters instead of 8.
cheerful yellow doily coasters
closeup of a stack of yellow doily coasters
perfect for afternoon tea!

Monday, November 18, 2013

White Stars for Tanya

Here's a picture of some of the 6 white hanging stars I made for my friend Tanya to hang on her Christmas tree. They're just basic granny stars, similar to the pink ones I made but without the flower in the middle. They're just 5 granny clusters in the middle. Now I just have to work out how I'm going to send these in the post!
large white hanging stars made for a friend

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pink Granny Stars

I made this pink granny star with  4 ply cotton and a 3mm hook, I made it because a friend has asked me to make her some Christmas hanging stars. I didn't follow a pattern, but basically did a 'granny star' with a flower in the middle instead of a granny cluster. There are 3 rounds, the 2nd round has a ch 1 sp in between the corners, the 3rd round has clusters of 4 in the corners, and (ch 1 sc ch) 1 into the ch 1 sp. That's just in case I forget how to make them next year! I can't wait for my new order of cotton to arrive from Bendigo so I can make these stars in other colours!
these cute cotton hanging stars have a small flower in the middle

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Our Rose is Red!

I posted last month about our old rose bush coming back to life after some much needed TLC. Well, now it has rewarded us with flower! And what a lovely surprise to find it's red! Very flushed with rosy colour, indeed!
we have been rewarded with a red rose1

Friday, November 15, 2013

Simple Yellow Flower Coasters

I made these sunny yellow coasters to use the 8 ply cotton I have on hand, they're a simple pattern from that I've used before. For some reason they're proving popular in my shop with lots of views, I think I'll have to make some more in different colours! Or maybe its the cheerful yellow that's appealing? I'm thinking of ordering more cotton and some 4 ply yellow is on the list so I can make other coasters in the same colour as these!
this pattern is available for free

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pale Pink Doily

I made another doily this time in pale pink, I'm hoping to order more cotton in different colours so I can do more. I used the pattern by Maggie Weldon which is available for free at Best Free Crochet. I used 4 ply cotton and a 2mm hook.
the pattern for this doily is available for free at Best Free Crochet

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Plain Circle Coasters

I made these plain circle coasters using the 4 ply cotton I have on hand and a 3mm hook, in case someone would like something plain rather than pink flowers!
plain circle coasters for something different than the usual

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bright Pink Square Coasters

I really like these square coasters I made to put in my shop, I wonder if anyone else will like them? I chose the bright pink for a distinctive look. I used a 3mm hook and 4 ply cotton. Let me know what you think!
Simple squares in bright pink make distinctive looking coasters

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tiny Flower Doily Coaster, free pattern

I've made up this pattern so I could use 4 ply cotton and a 2mm hook to make a pretty doily coaster in 5 rounds. I couldn't find a pattern that would use that size yarn to make what I was looking for. I'm not sure how to explain how I did the little flower in the centre, but if I find out it can be improved I will update this pattern here on this page. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think!
this doily coaster has a tiny flower in the centre

Tiny Flower Doily Coaster Pattern

by Teena Sutton Murphy copyright 2013

Yarn and Hook -  4 ply cotton with 2mm hook
Gauge - finished doily measure 3.5inches or 9cm across
Special Stitch (3 dc tog) - yarn over hook (yo), insert hook, yo and draw it through stitch, pull through 2 loops on hook leaving 2 loops, yo insert yo draw through, pull through 2 loops leaving 3 loops, yo insert yo draw through, pull through 2 loops leaving 4 loops, yo and pull through remaining 4 loops to complete stitch

1. ch 4, sl st to form loop, working into centre of loop, (ch 3, 2 dc tog to form 1st petal) 3 ch (3 dc tog) 3 ch (3 dc tog) 3 ch (3 dc tog) 3 ch (3 dc tog) 3 ch sl st into top of 1st petal (5 petal inside a circle)
2. sl st into next ch sp, ch 3 (counts as 1st st) 5 dc into same ch sp, (6 dc into next ch sp) repeat 3 more times, sl st into top of 1st st (30 st)
3. ch 3 (counts as 1st st) dc into same as sl st, ch 2 sk 1 st (2 dc into next st, ch 2 sk 1 st) repeat to end sl st into top of 1st st (15 ch sps)
4. ch 3 (counts as 1st st) dc into next, 2 dc into ch sp (dc into next st, dc into next st, 2 dc into ch sp) repeat to end, sl st into top of 1st st (60 st)
5. (sk next st, 5 dc into next st, sk next st, sl st into next st to form scallop) repeat to end (15 scallops) fasten off and sew in ends
a stack of pretty doily drink coasters

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bright Pink Doily

I made this doily using 4 ply cotton from Bendigo Woollen Mill and a 2mm hook. I used the same pattern I used to make a pair of green doilies for my sister in law, which is by Maggie Weldon and is available for free on I'm not sure what will become of this doily, I'm thinking I might make a set of them to put in my online shop which is currently empty. It's been a real challenge to know what to make for my shop, and especially taking the adequate photographs, but maybe I've conjured enough steam in my sails to try again!
bright pink doily on an angle
the pattern for this doily is available for free

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gluten Free Mini Quiches

We're planning a gluten free party for Tom's 3rd birthday which is in December, it'll just be a small gathering for a family get together. My brother is a diabetic coeliac so whenever he visits we try and provide as much gluten free food as we can. The extra difficulty this year is now we're in the new place there's not enough seating for everyone to sit around a table, so knives and forks are out. So not only are we looking for gluten free diabetic friendly recipes, but also ones that make good finger food for when you aren't sitting at a table.
these gluten free mini quiches are super easy
Although the get together is still 7 weeks away, we've started planning the menu in earnest to try and reduce the stress on the day. We just did a practice run of these gluten free mini quiches which were very easy and super yummy. I think these will be making it onto the menu! I found the recipe for crustless ham and cheese quiche at Kara cooks. For this to be gluten free you need to be sure you choose a gluten free ham or bacon, as sometimes processed meats can contain gluten.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Is this a Lilly Pilly?

This tree in our backyard is looking so beautiful right now I just had to share some photos of it. We're not quite sure what it is yet but we suspect its a lilly pilly, we'll know for sure when it fruits. The blooms are a-buzzing with bees, and the tree is completely covered with flowers. If it is a lilly pilly there's going to be a lot of fruit! And we won't be able to pick it all, its quite tall!
the tree is covered in these flowers
the tree in our backyard is quite tall
more flowers, could they be a lilly pilly?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rescuing an Old Rose Bush

I wish I'd taken a photo of this old rose bush when we moved in 6 months ago, then you would really see just how much its perked up. It used to be just a stick in the ground with about a dozen leaves on it! This is by our front letterbox, and looks to be a very old rose with a gnarled base and trunk. Someone has pruned it as roses require that, but that was before we moved in.
a flush of new growth on our old rose bush has given it a new lease on life
Since moving in, I've been applying blood and bone every 2 months, then replacing a layer of mulch. Last application I also added some premium potting mix to the blood and bone. Last weekend we put an extra layer of sugar cane mulch. Its been very dry here for the last 2 months so a few weeks ago I started watering it every day. This is obviously just what it needed because this week there is a flush of new growth, much more than what was there last autumn. I wonder if we'll get a flower this year, or if we have to wait until next year? Although its still spring here at the moment, its so hot it feels like summer already!
the old rose bush has perked up after applications of blood and bone every couple of months and daily watering

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Three Easy Toddler Activities

Here are three more easy toddler activities that I've tried. They're good for fine motor development and don't make a lot of mess, which of course I love!

Sorting Breadclips

I've kept a small plastic recycled honey jar filled with recycled bread clips waiting for an opportunity to use them with Thomas. For some reason he really enjoyed playing with them, scooping them into my hands and spreading them across the lounge. We played sorting them into the small plastic coloured bowls we have, sorting them by colour at this stage seems to be appropriate. This is an easy little game to play with recycled materials. I wouldn't use this with a baby though, because I worry the small pieces could be a choking risk.
sorting recycled bread clips is an easy toddler activity

Mr Potato Head and Playdough

I saw this idea on Teaching 2 and 3 years old and thought right away we could give it a go. Its a great variation on playing with play-dough that's easy to throw together if you have the play-dough already made up. I like to use this recipe for making my own home made play dough.
play-dough with Mr Potato Head parts is easy if you already have the play-dough made up

Painting with Watercolour

I've been keeping these water colours aside for a long time, they came inside a transparent bag I bought before Thomas started day-care last year. I've found that painting with these water colours does not make as much mess as the other paint and is really easy to clean up. I whip this out when Thomas asks for painting and I'm just not feeling up to dealing with the mess!
painting with watercolours is not as messy as other paints

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Straw Painting

I gave this straw painting a go, but it was quite messy I don't think I'll do it again for a while! Using an old medicine dropper, we dropped watered down paint onto paper then blew it with straws. Because I used the poster paint we did it out on the lawn to reduce the mess, rather than stain the conrete. The watered down paint made the paper all soggy, too. Thomas had fun though! He keeps asking for painting and gets quite excited!
blowing the watered down paint with a straw
dropping the watered down paint onto the paper with a medicine dropper

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Plastic bag keeper, free pattern

This plastic bag holder or keeper is my own design, I first made them early last year. I've had a couple of people ask for this pattern so here it is! Please be respectful of my original design and do not copy this pattern, you can make and sell items you make with this pattern, please just link back to this page.
the plastic bag keeper is a tube with a drawstring at each end
The plastic bag keeper is a tube with a drawstring at each end, pull the top drawstring tight and use the loop to hang the keeper. Keep the bottom drawstring loose so you can slip bags in underneath, pull the drawstring to close if needed.
weave the drawstring in between the stitches

Plastic Bag Keeper Pattern

you'll need less than 100g of 8ply yarn for this, I used acrylic and a 4mm hook
1. ch 60, sl st into 1st ch to form loop, ch 3 (counts as 1st st of round 1) dc into ea ch to end, sl st into top of 1st st (60 st)
2. ch 4 (sk 1, dc into next st, ch 1) repeat to end, sl st into 3rd ch (30 ch spaces)
3-34 sl st into next ch sp, ch 4 (dc into next ch sp, ch 1) repeat to end, sl st into 3rd ch (30 ch spaces)
repeat round 3 until round 34
35. ch 3 (dc into next ch sp, dc into next st) repeat to end, sl st into 3rd ch
36. ch 60, fasten off and tie a loose knot, starting at the 1st st of round 35, weave the 60 ch in and out of the stitches, cont. to end, undo the loose knot and sl st into 1st ch of 60 ch to form drawstring, fasten off and weave in ends.

To form drawstring at beginning end, start a new ch 60, fasten off leaving enough yarn to complete last sl st, and tie a loose knot. Starting at the 1st st of round 1, weave the 60 ch in and out of the stitches, cont. to end, undo the loose knot and sl st into 1st ch of 60 ch to form drawstring, fasten off and weave in ends.

Please leave a comment if you found this free pattern useful, I'd love to hear from you!

Playing with Pompoms

Surprisingly, Thomas really enjoyed playing with the pompoms, especially pushing little ones through holes in an old toothbrush holder. I thought this activity would be more suited to a younger child, but Thomas kept asking to do it again and again. I found this idea on Teaching 2 and 3 year olds. I only got around to buying a $2 packet of pompoms last weekend, I didn't buy them when he was younger because I was worried they might be a choking risk.
pushing pompoms through the holes in a toothbrush holder
He also enjoyed picking up pompoms with kitchen tongs, and sorting them into small plastic coloured bowls. We also revisited the sticky collage from last week, and he stuck pompoms onto the contact and then removed them.
sorting pompoms using kitchen tongs and small coloured bowls

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our New Lemon Tree

Yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary, and to celebrate we finally planted a lemon tree! We decided to get a dwarf Eureka because they have good fruit that you can harvest almost all year round. The dwarf variety will grow up to 2 metres, if we didn't get the dwarf it would have been 4 or 5m! We had to search for our chosen lemon variety at 3 different nurseries before we found it, they had a lot of meyer and some lisbon trees which we decided we didn't want because of the fruit, we want an acidic fruit that you can use in cooking. We ended up getting the tree from Turner's Nursery in Rochdale.
dwarf eureka lemon tree planted out with mulch
digging the hole was quite a difficult task that took 2 weekends
David worked on digging the hole for a couple of weeks, he also removed the last of the callistemon that was growing near where we decided the lemon tree needed to go. We chose a sunny position with a slight slope so the water should run off well. Lemon trees don't like to be in soggy ground. The ground had a lot of clay in it so we dug a large hole, which turns out that might not have been the right thing to do. We filled the bottom of the hole with some gravel and we put some of the local soil back in, we also put some dynamic lifter in the bottom.
mixing soil and compost in the hole
removing the lemon tree from its bag
We put a bag of rich compost and a bag of potting mix in the bottom mixed with some local soil. We mixed some blood and bone into that. Then it was high enough to put the lemon tree in, we tried to mound it up a bit but the mound turned out not to be very pronounced. We filled the holes around the tree with more potting mix and compost. We watered the tree and covered it with a thick layer of mulch.
adding more soil to build up a small mound
Here's to hoping we didn't waste the $46 it cost to buy the tree, not mention the cost of potting mix and compost. We did a lot of research, like this site that had diagrams on how to plant citrus in heavy clay soils. But the lady at Turner's nursery suggested it wasn't necessary to fuss and to just 'dig and hole and stick it in' while mounding it up. Let's hope we've done it right and lots of home grown lemons are in our future!
nearly 3 year old Thomas beside the new lemon tree

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Games with Straws

Last Tuesdays I bought a packet of 150 plain white straws from coles online. I researched activities I could do with Thomas using them, and here's what we did! Most of these ideas I found on pinterest, with a couple of our own thrown in! These activities made for a pleasant afternoon for my nearly 3 year old son and me.

Matching Straws and Lines

I found this idea on Teaching 2 and 3 year olds amongst a collection of tray activties. I carefully cut straws of different length and drew matching lines on a piece of paper. Thomas, who is nearly 3, could do this activity, it seemed to be just right for him.
matching straws to lines of different length

Blowing a Cotton Ball

I got this idea from a photo I saw on pinterest, its from the Eyes on the Source where there's a post on inside winter games. We didn't play races with it though, we just practised blowing the cotton ball with the straw. We did this for a few minutes, Thomas loved how the ball would move but he did get frustrated sometimes when he couldn't make the cotton ball move by himself. I just encouraged him to keep trying!

its fun to blow a cotton ball using a straw

Egg Carton, rings and straws game

This idea is from Mummy Musings and Mayhem, if you have straws its a cheap game to throw together with recycled materials. I poked holes into the recycled egg carton using a small pair of scissors. I started with the straws already in the holes, then when it came time for Thomas to play with it, I helped him remove the straws which he put back in. Then using the rings I made from cut up toilet rolls, he threaded them onto the straws. This game might be a little too easy for him, it only occupied him for a few minutes.
an easy game that doesn't cost much can be made from an egg carton, straws and empty toilet rolls
another shot of the egg carton, rings and straws game

Poking Straws

I got the idea for poking straws through the holes in a basket from a picture on pinterest which links to No one has more fun than the Adams. Thomas had some fun poking straws through the holes into the basket, sometimes poking through two straws at once. I also had an idea to poke the straws through holes in a kitchen utentsil which were just the right size.
you can poke straws through holes in a basket for a fine motor activity
you can also poke straws through other things like this kitchen utensil

Scooping Straws

Because I had the kitchen utensil out, Thomas then proceeded to try and scoop up straws with it saying 'I'm cooking!' I then cut some straws into smaller pieces and let him catch them as they popped! I put them into this recycled honey bucket and got a spoon that would fit better and he enjoyed playing pretend cooking with that. He scooped the straws out of the bucket, this is a great activity for his motor control.
pretend play with a spoon, recycled honey bucket and small pieces of straw

Threading Straws

We then ended the straw activity afternoon with some bracelet making by threading the small pieces of straw onto pipe cleaners. I got this idea from Toddler Boredome Busters. The pipe cleaners threaded easily through the straws, this is a great fine motor activity.
threading small pieces of straw onto pipe cleaners
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